Judge Grants One-Year Extension of Weston’s Forced Medication

Posted May 1, 2003 at 5:11pm

A federal judge determined Thursday that the man accused of fatally shooting two Capitol Police officers in 1998 can be forcibly medicated for another year with the hope that he gains competency to stand trail.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled in favor of the government’s motion to extend Russell Weston’s hospitalization until Nov. 19, 2003, a year after the motion was filed.

In so doing, he determined that the government had met its burden of proof that “a substantial likelihood exists that Mr. Weston will regain competency within the foreseeable future” and that the “requested additional period of one year is reasonable.”

The judge also scheduled a supplemental evidentiary hearing for June 17 to consider further evidence and Weston’s prognosis for attainment of competency to participate in future legal proceedings.

During a November 2002 hearing at the Federal Correction Institute in Butner, N.C. — shown via video conference to a U.S. District courtroom packed with Capitol Police and the widows of Officer Jacob Chestnut and Detective John Gibson — Weston’s prison psychiatrist said she expected him to be able to stand trial in a year.

Sullivan himself commented during that hearing that Weston seemed much more lucid than he had in the previous hearings, which have numbered in the dozens.

Weston has been medicated on two different drugs since 2001, after the Supreme Court declined to take the case, upholding an appeals court decision that medicating the defendant does not violate his right to a fair trial. The medication continued while Sullivan considered the November motion to extend the hospitalization.

Weston’s attorneys have argued that his anti-psychotic medicine hasn’t improved his paranoid schizophrenia and he is too delusional to stand trial. They opposed the government’s request for continued forcible medication, arguing that there was no evidence on which to grant the motion and no support in legislative or case law that one year is a reasonable period of time.